Ruthie Rice passed peacefully at home in Naples, Florida on June 23, 2021, in the company of family and friends. Her husband, Alan H. Rice, and her two children, H. Benjamin Bishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Amanda J. Martin of Cleveland, Ohio, were present to “love her on.”
Ruthie was a beloved daughter of Lawrance Miles Furbush and Maxine Robertson Furbush. She was born in August 1950 in Portland, Maine. Ruthie’s older sister Elizabeth A. (Betty) Behringer and her husband Al are longtime residents of Wilmington, Delaware, where Ruthie grew up. Ruthie’s younger brother David C. Furbush and his wife Kimberley reside in Traverse City, Michigan.
Alan, Ben, Amanda, Betty and Dave, along with their families and other beloved family and friends, embraced Ruthie in love and prayers throughout a period of time that, while it may have been uncomfortable, was characterized even more by strong and steady spiritual growth. Through every challenge of Ruthie’s life, she turned earnestly to the embrace of God’s love. She loved deeply the study and practice of Christian Science.
Ruthie described herself as a “devoted wife” and “devoted Mom of two wonderful children.” She loved gardens and flowers. She treasured her friends, with whom she shared joys of music and other performing arts, riding bicycles and swimming. She delighted in grappling with and discussing challenging issues, always with an eye to uplifting thought—in oneself and in society—to be more aware of God’s grace.
Ruthie’s primary home in adulthood was the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, where her two children were born and raised. Prior to Minneapolis, she attended college and graduate school in Illinois. She completed college in just three years, graduating from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois in 1971 with a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion, with highest honors and an additional award for academic excellence. Then, in 1973, she earned a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, which she attended on an Illinois State Library Scholarship award.
Ruthie’s main professional activities were as a reference librarian at several branches of the Hennepin County Library system in Minnesota, including several years of outreach as a visiting librarian for a local correctional facility. Prior to that, she served as a librarian with the Urbana Public Library in Urbana, Illinois and then at the St. Paul Public Library in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her home was always full of library books. When her children were small, they filled and then filled again a blue plastic basket that traveled back and forth from library to home. Throughout the years, a chair or sofa in her living room was usually accompanied by a stack of memoirs and reflections on topics relevant to current events.
In the community, Ruthie was a Brownie leader and school volunteer and always treasured supporting her children’s activities and growth. She was also devoted to her church community. She was a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts and of her local branch church, Third Church of Christ, Scientist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ruthie served Third Church as First Reader, Clerk, Board Member, Reading Room librarian, Sunday School teacher and Sunday School superintendent. She maintained her membership in Third Church in recent years, while she and Alan divided their time between Minneapolis and Naples. Her beloved church friends were an extension of her family.
Together with Alan, Ruthie worked to benefit a wide community of people, including the wrestling communities at Augsburg College, the University of Minnesota and Principia College. She and Alan worked tirelessly to support the return of Zeta Psi Fraternity to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus in 2016. They relished visits with Alan’s four nieces and nephews and their families, including locally with Beth (Rice) Dutcher and David Dutcher. To their children, Elise and Charlie, great-uncle Alan is “Gruncle”—which conveys some of the joyful delight Ruthie was so pleased and honored to be part of with the Rice family.
Among the biggest blessings of Ruthie’s later years was the opportunity, together with Alan, to make her home in Naples. It is not possible to capture in words how profoundly grateful she was for the beauty of the flowers and gardens around her. A framed photo of a banyan tree, which Ruthie captured not long ago upon seeing it during a car ride, hangs in the living room of the Lely Resort condo she and Alan shared.
Alongside her own spiritual growth, the greatest of all joys for Ruthie in the last three years was the birth of three grandchildren: Elliott Zackary Martin (son of Amanda and Hal Martin) was born in June 2018; Lydia Flora Bishop (daughter of Ben Bishop and Sara Kruschke Bishop) was born in January 2019; and Hannah Elaine Bishop (daughter of Ben and Sara) was born in May of this year.
Hannah’s middle name honors Ruthie, who was born Ruth Elaine Furbush. Although they did not get to meet in person, Ruthie’s love embraced the new baby fully and completely and serves as a continuing blessing on Hannah’s life. In a phone conversation the afternoon Hannah was born, Ruthie and Ben shared tears of gratitude, giving glory to God in welcoming Hannah. They celebrated what Ruthie would call the “new birth” of goodness that Christ Jesus invites and welcomes us to each day.
Although Ruthie is no longer here to hold, talk to and laugh with her grandchildren, children, husband and the many others she held so dear in her generous and embracing way, she departed knowing her love for them would continue uninterrupted—just as God holds her own life safe and blessed and forever, completely joyous.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ruth E Rice, please visit our floral store.